(Closed) Invitation Questions

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
1769 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@leannamari3:  I think tradtion states that two envelopes are proper, but nowadays anything goes. From what I’ve seen, a lot of brides forgo inner envelopes in an effort to save money – plus, it’s better for the environment. I say ditch ’em!


For the RSVP, I think a label (or printing directly on the envelope) is fine. Emily Post might say otherwise, so just don’t invite her Wink

Post # 4
817 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2013 - Mansion House at the MD Zoo

I don’t think you need an inner envelope, as long as you’re clear on the front of the envelope who is invited–“and family” “and guest” just names, etc. And I already bought a stamp with our address for invitation -and-reply envelopes, so I think you’re ok with labels on the rsvp envelope. I’ve seen it done before and it looked fine. No one really pays attention to the reply envelope, as long as you are making it easy for people to rsvp I think you’re ok.

Post # 5
4152 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I’m pretty sure the only reason you have two is so the inner doesn’t get messed up.  You’ll be fine with only one.

RSVP envelope – definitely put your labels on.  Time saver! 🙂

Post # 6
2281 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

We didn’t do an inner envelope, but we did need an envelope liner to keep the invitation from showing through to the outside.

I personally don’t have a problem with labels, but be prepared for some people to think they’re too informal. If you can print directly on the envelope, it probably looks better. It depends on how many you have – we had around 60, and I hand wrote the addressee and return address on each of ous, and it didn’t take nearly as long as I’d thought it would. 

Post # 7
3697 posts
Sugar bee

The double envelope dates from the era when mail was delivered by horse couriers, servants, etc., and envelopes frequently got dropped, smudged, smeared, splattered, etc. The outer envelope took all the abuse, and the inner one was there so that once the invitation arrived, the invitee could open a clean, attractive envelope. The practical reason for them is long gone, but double envelopes persist because they’ve become “traditional.” They’re nice if you want/can afford them, but they’re really no longer necessary (and, as PP pointed out, not very eco-conscious).

Traditional etiquette also says that the inner envelope is where you write the names of who is invited (from which guests are supposed to infer who is not included). However, almost the only people who know and pay attention to that rule are other brides! So relying on it is not especially wise …

Post # 8
716 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

I think it also has to do with the “level” of wedding you’re having. If you’re having a black tie affair you should do the whole shebang (inner envelope, engraved, etc.) but anything else you have a lot of flexibility!

The only thing that gets complicated is how to address the outer envelopes with no inners (since its technically not ettiquette to put “& guest” on the outer) but frankly, I’m seeing it more and more…

Post # 9
1699 posts
Bumble bee

@leannamari3:  It is correct form for an invitation to clearly lay out:

  • WHO is inviting people
  • WHOM she is inviting
  • to WHAT
  • WHERE, and
  • WHEN;

and by the style in which that information is stated, to demonstrate the style and level of formality of the event.

What does this have to do with inner and outer envelopes, you ask?

Well, the envelope that carries your invitation through the mail is a business document, with public visibility, creating a contract between you and your service provider the postal service. It is not subject to etiquette but to the post office regulations, and since it has public visibility it is not an appropriate place to list the names of minor children, or imply whom you consider to be members of a “social unit”. An outer envelope should be addressed to the person who is responsible for taking receipt of it and opening it. In the U.S. that is either a single person, or the joint heads of household (i.e. “Mr and Mrs X). In the other English-speaking countries it is the female head of household, as the social representative of the family.

So, the clear listing of WHOM the hostess wishes to welcome, must be written on something inside the outer envelope. The old-fashioned way to do that is with a write-in line:

“Mr Thomas Smith and Doctor Marie Curie
request the pleasure of the company of
<this is where you hand-write
in the names of the guests>
to the wedding of …

The more common way to do that is to use the wording

“Mr Thomas Smith and Doctor Marie Curie
request the pleasure of your company
to the wedding of …

and then to list the names on your inner envelope. If you invite no-one but married couples and sole-householders, then the inner envelope and the outer envelope will have the same names on them, so the inner envelope is redundant. But if you invite any other combination of people on the same envelope, and have neither a write-in line nor an inner envelope, you will find yourself wondering what to do with those extra names.

If you are ordering a pre-printed “invitation suite” from a printer, you would normally have your address printed directly on the R.s.v.p. envelope by the print-shop, saving you both the trouble of hand-writing your address, and the taste of licking all those return address labels. If you are even more old-fashioned, you can simply write “R.s.v.p.” in the lower left corner of the invitation, and let your guests use their own stationery, stamp, and hand-writing to send you a polite reply. You might think that no-one knows how to do that nowadays, but you might also be pleasantly surprised.

Fun though it is to gaze on all those identically-printed crisp pretty stationery cards, remember that “less is more” in the domain of formality and elegance. Extra inserts actually detract from the beauty of an elegant invitation.

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